Transforming PMDD’s Trauma Responses

Mar 11, 2024


In the realm of mental and emotional health, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) stands as a profound testament to the intricate interplay between our bodies and psychological experiences. While the disorder is primarily known for its severe emotional and physical symptoms preceding menstruation, there's a deeper narrative that often goes untold—how underlying trauma shapes and intensifies these symptoms. Dr. Gabor Maté, a renowned expert on addiction, stress, and childhood development, provides valuable insights into how trauma impacts our lives. He suggests that trauma isn't just about what happens to us but about the imprint left within us by what happened to us. This perspective opens a pathway to understanding the complex dynamics of PMDD through the lens of trauma and its responses—fight, flight, freeze, and fawn—and how Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) can offer healing.

Understanding Trauma

Trauma, as articulated by Dr. Maté, transcends the events themselves to encompass the indelible marks these experiences leave on our psyche and physical being. It's the disconnection from the self that arises in the face of overwhelming stress or danger. This disconnection is a defense mechanism, a way to survive emotionally when the reality of the situation might be too much to bear. "Trauma is not what happens to you; trauma is what happens inside you, as a result of what happens to you," Dr. Maté eloquently states, emphasizing the internal battle and the ongoing struggle with past pain.

Trauma Responses and PMDD

The four trauma responses—fight, flight, freeze, and fawn—are primal coping mechanisms that can emerge in individuals suffering from PMDD, often amplifying their symptoms and distress.


The fight response manifests as irritability, anger, or even aggression in those with PMDD. This heightened state of confrontation can stem from a deep-seated sense of needing to protect oneself against perceived threats, echoing past traumas where aggression might have been a necessary survival strategy.

Example: Anna finds herself snapping at minor irritations at work and home in the week leading up to her period, a sharp contrast to her usual demeanor. This reaction mirrors her childhood environment, where she had to assert herself aggressively to be heard.


The flight response in PMDD may look like an overwhelming urge to escape or withdraw from one's daily life and responsibilities, driven by the subconscious desire to flee from the internal turmoil and pain.

Example: Bella, who typically enjoys social gatherings, feels an insurmountable need to isolate herself as her PMDD symptoms begin, reminiscent of her younger years when running away felt like the only option to avoid conflict at home.


Freeze responses are characterized by a sense of paralysis or disconnection, where individuals may find themselves unable to perform even simple tasks, mirroring a state of internal overwhelm and shutdown.

Example: Claire spends hours on the couch, unable to muster the energy to attend to her responsibilities, a state that reflects her childhood response to shut down in the face of unpredictability and chaos.


Fawning involves excessive pleasing or accommodating others, often at the expense of one's own needs, rooted in a deep fear of abandonment or conflict.

Example: Diane overextends herself to meet the needs of everyone around her during her PMDD phase, neglecting her own wellbeing—a pattern developed early in life as a means to ensure safety and love from her caregivers.

Healing Through RTT

Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) offers a compelling approach to addressing the trauma underlying PMDD symptoms. By combining hypnotherapy with cognitive-behavioral techniques, RTT facilitates a deep exploration of the subconscious mind, allowing individuals to uncover and heal the roots of their trauma responses.

  • Identifying the Origin: RTT begins by guiding individuals to recognize the origins of their trauma and how these experiences have shaped their responses, offering insights similar to Dr. Maté's understanding of trauma's internal impact.

  • Transforming Beliefs: Through the therapeutic process, individuals are empowered to transform their limiting beliefs and narratives, fostering a reconnection with their inner strength and resilience.

  • Releasing Trauma: RTT employs specific techniques to help release the emotional burden of past traumas, facilitating a profound healing process that can alleviate the exacerbated symptoms of PMDD.

  • Empowering Change: Finally, RTT supports individuals in developing healthier coping mechanisms and strategies, enabling them to navigate their premenstrual phase with greater ease and emotional stability.


The intersection of trauma responses with PMDD illuminates the profound ways our past experiences continue to shape our present, often in ways we might not consciously recognize. Through the insights of Dr. Gabor Maté and the transformative potential of RTT, there's a pathway to not just managing symptoms but fundamentally healing the underlying trauma. This journey towards healing is not just about overcoming the challenges of PMDD but about reclaiming a sense of wholeness and connection with oneself, offering a beacon of hope for those navigating the turbulent waters of trauma and PMDD.

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